Beach days.

The sea salt is drying on my skin as I write you this, what once was the ocean leaving a taste of this morning’s swim on my lips.

Do you know what the beach is like when the sun has only just risen?

It is quiet, pacifying. New, as though the oceans hadn’t existed for light years prior to that morning.Β  There we all were, housing beautiful contradictions: we were star-skinned, yet pieces of a ticking clock, rewinding time yet moving forward.

I’ve known them for a very long time, these friends.

We were still tender when we met, eyes wide and cheeks plump, unaware of everything living entailed. We could never have known, 20 years ago, in between petty quarrels, skinned knees and games of tag, that we would ever reach here, now.

But there we were, making history, ignoring Time.

You know, Time is a mirror: when you ignore Time, it ignores you back. When you chase it, it chases you. When you check on it, it checks on you.

So because we did not care for Time, the morning passed slowly. The stories of our lives flowed like streams in the world we had created for ourselves, expanded the bubble that had unwittingly appeared around us. It is uncommon to feel both free and safe at the same time, but that’s exactly how I felt. Unchained yet protected. Another beautiful contradiction to add to the list.

Never let me forget this day, will you?


Listening to:

Note:
So apparently, you can add videos now, so I’m going to add a video just because I can. Did it have to be a vertical video though πŸ˜‚

Good news!

Last year, I wrote about “taking my writing further“, beyond the safe space of this blog.

Well, guess what.

I received my first acceptance email πŸ₯ΊπŸ˜³

young adult old soul writing magic realism

It’s a fledgling local project, a prose and poem anthology, started by two twenty-somethings eager for change, passionate about the written word. So naturally, especially if you’re me, it seemed too good to be true.

But well, the book is being printed. All the proceeds are going to local NGOs, which elevates this already dizzying experience to heights that have me shaking from fear and exhilaration both.

And my name’s on it somewhere, among 49 other featured writers.

So thank you.

Thank you for reading, thank you for your kind words spread over 4 years now, according to WordPress. My writing would have forever remained between the lines of my notebooks without you.

young adult old soul writing magic realism

Note: I hope you’re all doing well, wherever you are.

Listening to:

A revelation.

Young adult old soul magic realism writing
Gif by: Unknown

One unforeseen result of lockdown for me has been the stationery shortage, specifically of the pen variety, that I have experienced. Let me clarify now that by no means am I trying to complain here. I simply replenish my stationery stocks so often and so unthinkingly that the realisation I had run out of my preferred pens shocked me a little.

You see, in my country, we had a quasi-total lockdown for a while. This meant that you couldn’t even go shopping for food in grocery stores, let alone for stationery. The only places you were allowed to go out to were the pharmacy and the hospital. In that interval of time, and really, ever since lockdown regulations went into effect, there were many other commodities I had expected to run out of: flour, instant noodles (surprisingly intact now), conditioner. Miraculously still, my bottle of conditioner β€” only half-full two months ago β€” keeps giving and giving even now. It seemed strange that a somewhat luxury item like conditioner would endure and something as basic as a pen wouldn’t, even though they aren’t comparable like that.

But lo and behold, I soon had to make the switch from my preferred sleek gel pens with pointed nibs to somewhat rocky, awkward old pens with large nibs. You know, those ones you seem to have lying around for years and which still work, but which will only write in faded shades of grey or blue.

Yeah, those ones.

Needless to say, the writing experience just wasn’t the same. I loop a lot of my letters β€” no social distancing for my letters, no sir, no ma’am. Letters melt into each other, lines morph into curves and whole words are written in a single stroke. A non-gel, age-unspecified, large-nibbed pen does not allow for great looping, as you can imagine.

The thought crossed my mind for a moment:

“Why do you care?”

Why do you care that your letters loop, that your writing flows? What’s it to you if it does?

It was then that I took notice of the β€” frankly nice β€” notebook I am currently writing in. It’s a Harry Potter 9 and 3/4 notebook with pleasantly thick pages that don’t bleed through, a rustic, parchment paper effect covering the pages and beautiful, lush illustrations gracing a few pages. I have others lined up for succession too: an authentic Tibetan rice paper journal that reached me from, well, Tibet (through Thailand), a hard-cover, personal journal, my still plastic-wrapped Gryffindor one…

And it occurred to me then that I care about my writing. It is not something I do just out of passion but also, very much, with love. I had simply never thought of it that way. I’ve rejected writing for so long I had never come to realise that. I love writing, yes, this much I know.

I love writing.

I write with love.

They’re two very distinct feelings with distinct implications.

Strange as it may seem after keeping a blog almost regularly for 3 years now, it became an: “Oh, I never knew that about myself.” kind of moment.

Night escapes.

young adult old soul magic realism writing
I won’t call it photography, but well, here’s a moment I wanted to keep.

“Look at how bright that star is!”

A single orb of pure, incandescent light pierces through the dark-blue, velvety sky.

“It’s probably a planet. Venus, maybe.”

His eyes flicker upwards, leaving the road ahead to focus longly β€” for someone who is at the wheel β€” on maybe-Venus and its magnetic glow.

We are gliding swiftly down tresses of gleaming concrete on a deserted highway, the old red Honda espousing every curve of the road ahead, floating over every divot, coming to a smooth halt at every red light. The city lies low and far away from underneath us, at sea-level. This far up, there is no distinction between sky and sea, especially at night. Cruisers and cargo ships alike seem to be floating away into the night with their millions of little lights, like lanterns upon which children had made a wish.

All is calm. The night is quiet, with a few exceptions.

Smooth and unintrusive, music is leading a dance with silence. It soothes our harried minds, the wounds of everyday life, the painful boils of unrealised dreams. Notes and divine voices pour, honey-like, over the crackle and sizzle of tires pressing on bitumen, over the howl of the night breeze.

All of it, all of it is free.

The cool air, the freeway, even our time has been liberated from daily constraints. We’ve burst from a compact open office into the free night and we’re drunk on every gulp of air.

We do this often. A couple times a week. Distantly, as I stick my hand out to comb my fingers through the night, to let my fingers glide with the wind, I am aware that these are some of the moments I will look back on, one day. I will remember this feeling if nothing else. I’ll forget about Venus and the red Nissan and the floating cruise ships. But freedom like this, I can never forget. It is one of these little things which have imprinted on me. They have become a part of who I am. Experiencing them has been like discovering a part of me, like peering into the fog of my own mind and finding some new light shining there.


Listening to:

Someone like me.

Young adult old soul magic realism
Art by: Xuan Loc Xuan

I hadn’t known he lived so close by, all this time. A mere 5 minutes’ walk away, in one of these houses I often see during walks but never really take notice of.

We had been out enjoying the night and the freedom to be ourselves: young and a bit reckless, drunk on the boundlessness of night. That’s when M. noticed him on the balcony. A man so young and pale and delicate, he looked like a boy who had yet to know what the night held. And he was a boy, even though I know that, like M., he had already made his way to his twenties and was reaching to grasp a quarter of a decade. He had been exhaling the smoke from a cigarette, contemplating life in shorts and a sleeping shirt when M. called out to him.

I had always known there were others like me. Out there, in the vast world, in the endless night. Others with eyes so tender from dreams. Others who could enter other dimensions, who could stay rooted to the spot, stuck in ordinary scenes and still be so far away. But these others were never corporeal. They were always nebulous like the night, far away in time and space, in their own worlds, leagues away from me. The others weren’t meant to be a mere 5 minutes from me, from my own cold nights, my silent howling, my early mornings spent awaiting a reply that never came.

It was unmistakable, that look on his face.

I’ve never seen it on myself, but I know how it makes you feel β€” foggy and infinite, the body merely an illusion of presence, like a boat moored to land but whose sails have long flown into the night.

I could taste that moment, the gentle loneliness emanating from the scene, the kind that comes from being the only one of your kind.

But he doesn’t know does he, I wondered, that he’s not the only one?

I had known of him years before that, short and just as boylike, with a feathery mustache. Our circles had crossed, but we had never really interacted. I had known of him as just another boy, a face with barely a name attached to i.

Who would have known that somewhere in the future, we would share in so many sleepless nights, so many stars without knowing?

He was now talking to M., a soft, tired smile on his face as his cigarette burned away and the night breeze brushed through his shock of black hair.

This changes everything, I thought.

I wasn’t the only one to whom the night had whispered her secrets. I wasn’t the only one who had lived to see nights without end cross over into the early morning. The night was not mine alone to drown in anymore, to wander through aimlessly like a sleepwalker under the artificial glow of the streetlamps.

I watched as he took another drag of his cigarette.

Before long, before I could formulate a plan, his cigarette had burned out and M. returned to the car.

We left, accompanied by loud music and the vivid image of a cigarette being lit in the darkness.

I left him to his freedom as I went to seek out mine.

Mobile.

Young adult old soul magic realism simini blockerArt by: Simini Blocker

The moon, for a moment, looked like a piece of seaglass sticking out from the sand, stricken by a straying sunbeam.

Then, I realised, isn’t it just that? Maybe the moon is nothing but a piece of glass set in the heavens, meant to catch our eye, to pacify our wild, warring thoughts as it reflects a light that is not its own.



Publishing

Young adult old soul magic realism awkward yeti
Art by: The Awkward Yeti

“Get your short story published: it’s good.”

As a writer (welp!), this kind of recognition hits me in the guts. As clichΓ© as it sounds, I missed a breath and a couple heartbeats when this was first said to me. Showing someone your writing means going against any and all survival instinct. It is one of the most counter-intuitive things I’ve ever done. It is the kind of trust that gives me anxiety in a flurry of a thousand questions, like furious wasps released and attacking all at once.

“What if she doesn’t get it?”

“What if she doesn’t like it?”

“What if it actually makes no sense?”

“What if she laughs at it?”

“What if it’s so bad she can’t bring herself to tell me?”

How can anyone reasonably lay out their heart like that? How is it not madness to cut open your chest and let someone else rummage in it? How can you let a stranger into your home, how can you allow them to touch your things, to play your memories when they have no idea how precious they are?

How can you trust someone else to understand who you are?

“If all goes well,” I comfort my trembling inner self, “She’ll tell me it needs a whole lot of rewriting, but.”

But it holds a glimmer of promise.

But it could be good, one day.

But, it has something.

And then, this.

My inner child is SQUEALING. She’s dancing about, going breathless, twisting muscles and not caring. Actually, that’s just present-day me.

I am always in doubt of my ability as a writer. Most days, I feel I haven’t even grasped the basics. English is not even my first language; my French is not always elegant, either. I feel a bit like a fraud. Like I’m making myself out to be more than I really am. I’m calling myself a writer now. What next, introducing myself as an artist, a “creative”?

But this, it’s like a push in the right direction. It’s like someone telling me: “Why are you walking down this path when you should be running along? Give it a try. Don’t hold yourself back. You have what it takes.”

I really want to do that. To try. And I want to believe I can reach somewhere with it. I’m not looking to create an empire or to become famous. But as J.K. Rowling so truthfully put it:

β€œI would like to be remembered as someone who did the best she could with the talent she had.”

And could I ever ask for more? That is all there is to it: to try the best I can with what I have. Everything else is secondary.

The one who loves more.

young adult old soul magic realism writing
Art by: ohgigue

After the separation, I remember writing (very embarrassingly) that I felt home-less. I felt like I had been kicked out into the cold, into the loneliness of life, unprepared. It always happens to other people, doesn’t it? It happens because they are somehow at fault. If you do everything like you’re supposed to, you have nothing to fear.

But it’s not true.

One day, you have love in you. You share a bond with someone else that nothing could begin to explain. One day, it’s for life. The next, it isn’t anymore. And it never will be again. You find yourself having to grasp with the cold realities of the present while relearning what the truth is now. The truth that somehow, today is vastly different from yesterday and yesterday will never happen again.

I’ve journeyed a bit since then, into the cold. I stumbled upon warmth, watching as feeling seeped back into my frosty fingers, leaving behind a dark red blush.

And now, I’ve returned. To the house I had been thrown from. It is exactly as it was when I left. No wind has passed by, no leaflet has been nudged out of place. The only difference now it that it is abandoned. But when has an abandoned house been this full?

This house that was left in a hurry, left alone for the vines of Time to overtake, it still holds so many things. So many objects still hanging on the wall, so many tottering stacks of photos and drawers crammed to overflowing with mementos. There are playlists and poems, brochures for things we said we’d do together. On the desk, the half-written letter I could never finish in time lays undisturbed. Through the lens of memory, I can see myself writing it even now, stuck in mid-air β€” an action caught in time, frozen under its glaciers.

Every room harbours a lifetime of memories. Nothing is meaningless. There are plenty of senseless things, yes, but they all have meaning.

How can such a full house feel so empty?

I wish she had taken some things with her. I wish she’d packed some memories with her in a box labeled with her name and had driven off. But why do I have to be the one left with all of these? The burden of memories is always left to the one who loves more.

I ask myself why I am even here. To torture myself even more? To grow cold in a house engulfed in an eternal winter? Have I come to burn it down, to forget?

“Thank you.”

That is what I’ve come to say.

“Thank you for keeping me warm, for protecting me against the cold. Thank you for your time with me.”

I cannot live in this house anymore. I cannot visit it for long. But I’m happy it was there, once upon a time.


Note: So, friendships hurt huh

Listening to:

 

One last twilight.

Young adult old soul ghibli writing magical realism
Still from the movie “Howl’s Moving Castle”

I want a little more time to feel these in-betweens. Why do they have to come in flashes? Why do they have to be windows of opportunity forever lost if you do not jump through them? Like twilight, why do these moments have to be fleeting? I want more time to decipher this melancholy, to unravel my feelings, to pick out my memories from the film roll of my life.

Yet it seems so selfish to ask for more time when I have already had so much of it. The clock has been kind to me this year, allowing me more moments of peace than I thought I could get. But as the decade draws to an end and the sun sets on another 10 years of my life, I need a moment to stomach it all: how far I’ve come, how far I’m meant to go.

I mean, at the other end of this coming decade, I could emerge as a 34 year old. At the beginning of this decade I am leaving behind, I was 14. My twenties feel like a whole moment in-between so far. A transition period, a world made of bridges I have to cross or build or repair.

So forgive me if I am holding onto time, begging it to stop for a little while for me, I just want to understand. I want to clearly understand the immensity of the ten years that have passed and the ten more to come, maybe.


Note: It’s not yet 2020 where I’m from and as I post this, but I hope you can take the best of this decade with you. I do not like to think that new years can bring anything, so to speak. My belief is that we are the ones who bring change. But it’s hard not to get swept up in the spirit of newness, to not feel a swelling of hope in spite of every evil thing we know exists in the world. So I wish that, wherever you are in the world, you can take some of that hope with you and hold onto it. Happy New Year, everyone ❀️

Listening to:

Risk-free.

 

young adult old soul magic realism writing
Art by: 9jedit

I’m thinking β€” no, I know it is time to move forward, to take that leap I have been preparing for, knowing I am not ready for all of it, knowing it is not risk-free, knowing I would be safer if I didn’t. And trust me, I don’t want to be out there, exposing my weakness to the world, defenceless as I put myself out there to be criticised freely.

But things have already gotten so far, life is already losing its flavour to the everyday hassle, the torturing boredom of accomplishing the same repetitive tasks. Life is worth more than that. A slow extinguishing of dreams, the death, drawn-out, of magic, fantasy, curiosity. Life is worth being hurt, being vulnerable for. Everything, everything to unsettle the deep aching, the profound unhappiness rooted in ourselves. We need to treat the roots, even if it hurts more that way. Even if we are left with emptiness, not knowing how to fill the hole that is left behind.

I need to grow, to push against the dirt and emerge, leaves tender, afraid of being burnt by the sun, blown away by the winds. I could stay safe, but I would never know the beauty of the sky, the sight of rain, the lightness of the wind.

So in that way, I must rise. I must rise and emerge and use what I have to shape the future. Or else I must choose to fall back into a safe darkness, forever wondering.

I must make my future, hard as it may be.